I met a very nice man at one of my art fairs this past summer. He loved my work and asked if I would speak at his camera club meeting, and share some of my pictures with everybody. This has happened before, I have gotten such requests, but people never follow through. This person did. I felt very encouraged.
I put together some pictures that I could display on a laptop. The first half hour would be about what led me into nature photography, how I started my business, and what it’s like to be in art fairs. I ended with a slideshow of my shots, writing down the settings of each picture in case somebody asked.
Yesterday was the day of my speech. I have a very bad sense of direction, so I was nervous about finding the place. No, I don’t have a GPS! So I relied on their instructions. As I was worrying about a turn that would be miles ahead (should I go left or right, they had said south), I didn’t realize how much speed I was gathering! My fear all went to my foot! I looked behind me and saw a cop, but it didn’t occur to me that I had anything to worry about. So engrossed was I in worrying about being there on time, and hoping I wouldn’t get lost.
Well of course the cop stopped me! I was speeding, and it wasn’t just 5 or 10 over the speed limit. I told him how nervous I was and that I had to give a speech at 11am. He took pity on me and gave me the speediest speeding ticket I’ve ever gotten! And didn’t charge me the amount of money for my actual speed, but put me in the category underneath that! Thank goodness.
So then I had to pull myself together. I started praying: “I surrender to the power and presence of God within me.” I said this over and over. I started feeling calmer.
I actually got there 15 minutes early! It was not hard to find. And the little compass over my mirror tells me if I’m going south, west, or whatever direction I’m driving in. So there was no reason to worry.
I gave a talk about my journey as an artist. I looked around at the faces. There were blank stares. I got the feeling that nobody cared what it was like to be in an art show. They just wanted to see my pictures. So, since I had only brought 7 pictures, I started the slideshow, and I made a long story about each one! Stretching it out. I had to speak for an hour in total. I tapped in to all the joy I felt when I was there. And suddenly the crowd came alive and they wanted to know how I got my hummingbird shots. How far away was I? What settings did I use on the camera? Did I shoot in burst mode? How many shots did I have to take before I got a good one. And I was able to answer all their questions in detail. And that part of the speech went really well.
I ended it with a story about my skiing angel, which is another blog I’ve posted. I mentioned that I was spiritual, and this experience meant a lot to me. Blank stares. I mentioned that I wasn’t sure if I had met an angel that day. More blank stares. I started to tell the story differently by saying that I was at the top of a very big mountain in Montana, and I didn’t know how to ski very well, but somehow I got down. Suddenly people looked like they wanted me to finish this! So, it ended well with a human interest story, and I passed out a few business cards at the end, and someone took my blog printout home.
As I drove home, I realized that you never know what each day brings. If you’re doing something for the first time, you’re not going to pull it off perfectly. I had learned what to discuss in future presentations. What would really interest people. What sorts of questions to expect. What information would I need to write down ahead of time, like my camera settings.
And I was proud of myself. In spite of the speeding ticket, and the blank stares. I soldiered on and saw this thing through to the end. Learned from it. Made mental notes. What not to do. What to do instead.
And now I’m not nervous anymore. What could be worse? Getting a speeding ticket which rattles you? And then having to perform something you’re not sure of? If I could do that, the next time will be a breeze! Right?